Eligibility and how to apply for free school meals

  • All pupils in reception, year 1 or year 2 are automatically entitled to a school meal under the Government's Universal Free Meals policy
  • If your child is in any of those school years and you think you meet the criteria, we recommend that you still apply. This will mean your child's school does not miss out on important funding to support your child (pupil premium). It may also mean your child will continue to receive free meals after the end of year 2
  • Older children/young people may not have to pay for school lunches if you as their parent or carer meet the eligibility criteria. This also generates the Pupil Premium which gives schools additional funding

Eligibility criteria

Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

Your child may also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:

  • Younger than the compulsory age for starting school
  • In full-time education

If your child is eligible for free school meals, they'll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they're in on 31 March 2022.

Pupils who do not qualify for free school lunches must be charged the same amount for the same quantity of the same item.

How to apply for free school meals